By Phil Tanny
To me, Progressive Catholicism is grounded in the reality of the Catholic community. Let's explore that reality together.
A Huge Community
To start, a central fact of the Catholic community is that our congregation contains something like a billion members, and is thus one of the largest groups of people on Earth.
A Diverse Community
The next fact we can examine is that as one of the largest groups of human beings, the Catholic community is diverse, containing a rich variety of perspectives.
This diversity is an inevitable condition of human life.
Every ideology, group, club, nation or family etc eventually subdivides in to factions with competing points of view. Even two very close and committted dear friends will not agree on everything, and will sometimes argue.
As part of the rich diversity within the huge Catholic community, some Catholics may wish that this diversity did not exist. This group of Catholics are of course sincere Catholics just like the rest of us. They too are part of the diversity, a fraction of the whole.
However, even the most fervent passion for uniform universal agreement does not change the fact of diversity within the Catholic community, and the human family at large.
After all, even at the Vatican there are factions, and factions within factions. Surely all these factions are Catholic.
And if we look honestly at those sitting around us in Mass, we will come to accept that very few of our fellow Catholics agree exactly on every single issue. And yet they are still sitting next to us in Mass, and are still Catholic, just as we are.
To me, Progressive Catholicism recognizes the fact that diversity within the Church always has been and always will be, and it attempts to deal constructively with this reality of being Catholic.
Dealing Constructively With Diversity
From the Progressive Catholic point of view, at least as defined within myself, the diversity of opinion with the Church is not a problem to be solved, but a gift from God to be embraced.
The fact of diversity within our Catholic community strikes this Catholic as a challenge from God, a test of our faith, and a teaching.
Why this challenge? What's the teaching?
The reality of being human is that humanity at large contains a very wide range of perspectives. The main challenge we face as human beings is to successfully manage all these different ways of being human in a constructive peaceful manner.
We face this challenge for the simple reason that there is exactly zero chance that all these billions of human beings will ever all be persuaded to a single point of view. Diversity, a fact of human life, whether we like it or not.
And so, it seems to me that God is providing we Catholics with a rich diversity of opinion within our own congregation as a training ground. I believe we are being called to learn how to accept, embrace and lovingly manage the diversity within our own Catholic community.
And I believe that only when we succeed at this relatively easy task will we be ready to offer ourselves as role models to the larger and much more diverse human family.
There's Nothing To Fear
We need not fear diversity within the Catholic community so long as each of us declare our allegiance to the single word which lies at the heart of the teachings of Jesus Christ.
A single word.
A single word we can all agree on.
A single word which provides enough work to keep each of us busy for the rest of our lives.
A single, simple, and yet revolutionary word which we can all agree on, and can all act upon, together, as the Catholic community.
A single word.
If we focus on love, if we express this core point of agreement in action, we will be given enough faith in God, and find enough faith in our own faith, to bravely explore the rich diversity which is the Catholic community.
Progressive Catholicism, at least as defined within myself, recognizes the reality of the Church, and embraces it . . .
And has faith that God knows what He's doing.
See also the previous PCV post:
In What Sense Are We Progressive Catholics?